Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pizzeria Luigi

A lot of people tout Bronx Pizza as #1 in San Diego for thin crust pizza, but there are still improvements/tweaks that can be made to their pies. I particularly hate their hard, flavorless crust since my mouth gets cut up every time. Bronx could also use better tasting pepperoni.

After some digging around on the internet, I found a little place called Pizzeria Luigi that supposedly makes pizzas at or above the level of Bronx. Parking in the 25th St. location is a nightmare, so the new one on El Cajon* next to Eclipse Chocolat has been my preferred pizza destination.

Pepperoni+Sausage Pizza from Luigi's:

Blotting your pizza can eliminate as much as 45kcals/slice! I do it all the time.


Looks just like a pizza from Bronx, but take a bite and the differences will be obvious. Luigi's has a delicious and chewy crust that is as sturdy as Bronx's--sans razor-sharp edges. Toppings and cheese also taste significantly better than Bronx's. I'll have to compare these pizzas side-by-side one day, but during this visit I felt that Bronx's pizzas tasted bland in comparison. Sauce at Luigi's just tastes like it has bit more depth and complexity. We can probably attribute this to the sauce's delicate sweetness, among other factors. Lastly, Luigi's is quite generous with the cheese, as you can see from the photo above, yet the balance of flavors and textures is not sacrificed. :D AWESOME.

As always, I'd love to compare notes with you guys if you've been here. And of course, please offer any recommendations if you know other kick-ass places as I am a big lover of pizza!

*updated August 09

Pizzeria Luigi

1137 25th St.
San Diego Ca, 92102

2121 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92104

Monday, July 14, 2008

Eclipse Chocolat (#5): Roger loves this place!

It's been awhile since I dropped by to visit Will at Eclipse due to all the midterms/finals/graduation craziness, so when my brother and his girlfriend came to visit me it was a great opportunity to check out the Summer Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platter.

Will has been really busy creating new cupcake flavors and just recently, Eclipse Chocolat hosted quite an epic cupcake party. Wish I could have made it D: You guys can check this all out on his blog.

Mmmm. Lunch!

On to the summer platter! By the way, I totally screwed up depth of field in the following photos. f/4.0 doesn't cut time, I'm trying f/6.3 and actually examining each shot in the dinky little LCD on my Rebel XT.

Grilled White Chocolate Corn Gateau-
[grilled almond-corn cake, studded with 31% white chocolate chips+orange-caramel drizzle]

Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding with Milk Chocolate-Cinnamon Sauce-
[cinnamon roll bread pudding, warmed+milk chocolate-vietnamese cinnamon sauce]

White Chocolate Lemon-Thyme Sauce with Frozen Berries-
[white chocolate sauce infused with vanilla bean, lemon peel, & thyme+frozen mixed berries]

Dark Chocolate-Rhubarb Mousse-
[chilled 61% dark chocolate mousse+rhubarb, red wine, & vanilla bean compote+dried pomegranate arils]

I wasn't a big fan of the corn gateau since I just hate sour desserts, but my brother absolutely loved it. Good corn cake, though. Bread pudding was fantastic with the cinnamon sauce. I would lick the plate clean if eating it at home! You can't tell from my photos, but the frozen berries are plump and gorgeous. Not a single flaw in each one. Also, they're sweet even without the white chocolate sauce! Never had such great berries in my life. I was really looking forward to the dark chocolate mousse, but I found its consistency to be much too thick. Each spoonful of the mousse packs in a big whallop of flavor. This might be overwhelming for some, but lovers of dark chocolate will really enjoy this. I think I liked the mousse from the Spring Platter more though, but only because it is lighter/more airy. Hopefully the mousse's thickness was a fluke on my visit.

Presented in a much too shallow DoF: The three items I liked.

During this visit, the generous Will let me taste one of his sweet 'n savory cupcakes--Crispy Bacon & Dulce de Leche. Or was it with chocolate...? No matter. Tasted great, and reminded me of cha siu bau. How can you not like sweet and savory pork tucked into airy bread?

Eclipse Chocolat is having another chocolate-themed 5-course meal, this time with seafood! RSVP ASAP...assuming there are still tables available. See you guys there!

Eclipse Chocolat

2121 El Cajon Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92104

Friday, July 11, 2008

Home-made Bao Zhi + Potstickers: Roger sux at pinyin

Alright let's get this out of the way first: I don't know a lick of pinyin. What I do know, however, is that my feeble attempts are usually kind of close to the correct spelling. Don't look at me like that. Hey cut it out! At least I'm fluent in and can read Mandarin.

One of my mother's students--Mrs. Chin--is a fantastic cook, so we invited her over to pass on to us skills that only Chinese grandmothers have. Hell, even then, not all grannies know how to cook. During this visit, Mrs. Chin taught us how to make Bao Zhi, which are essentially steamed buns with a savory filling. Think: Cha siu baau from dim-sum, but requiring more technique to make.

Pork+cabbage were the main ingredients today, though there are numerous other types of fillings. Since we were a bit too generous with the filling for each bao zhi, we had no choice but to make potstickers. ...God I hate pinyin.

I will post the recipe soon after I translate and organize the notes Mrs. Chin gave us. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures.

Lots of perfect ones, but can you spot the Ugly Ducklings? Those little folds are freakin' hard to make.

Mrs. Chin works at a blistering pace!

This brought back memories of my childhood. Play-dough was awesome.

That's how much filling you can stuff into a potsticker!

Perfect bao zhi, but burnt potstickers. I won't get distracted by Giada De Laurentiis next time...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sushi Deli 2

Friends and I recently went to Sushi Deli 2 next to Horton for their happy hour specials. It was fun hanging out, but damn...the crap that was served to us left a nasty taste in my mouth.

Prices during happy hour are pretty sweet. Hand rolls are half price (roughly 1.25-50 each) and sake is hella cheap. And yes it's sake not saki, goddamnit! Even the staff there got it wrong. I think Sapporo was cheaper too, but I don't remember. Nigiri runs about the same price as the hand rolls. Doesn't sound too bad right?


Our orders took a full half hour to come to us as surrounding tables filled and emptied. Apparently if you order off the happy hour menu, Sushi Deli will take their sweet ass time to prepare your meal. But why would they do such a thing?! Oh to run out the clock, of course! We arrived thirty minutes before the end of happy hour and Sushi Deli did not want us to place additional orders at the discounted price! Honestly, though, it doesn't matter either way because after your first glance, bite, or sniff, I'm sure anyone with functional tastebuds would just get up and leave.

Let's start with the handrolls. I can you screw up a hand roll? Oh I know! You can use thick, damp nori that is impossible to tear. While you're at it, why not use overly sweet rice that has been heavily pressed before it's tossed into the fridge? I assure you refrigerated rice takes a whole lot of effort to chew. The spicy tuna was quite a contrast with the rice. Sushi Deli must have used a food processor to chop up the tuna into a spreadable paste. How considerate of them! They must have realized that since the rice is so hard to chew, they'd do us a solid by filling up the hand roll with spicy tuna that requires no chewing whatsoever.

Hand rolls were bad, but they were heavenly in comparison with Sushi Deli's nigiri. I had ordered the tuna and hamachi as a litmus test. I laughed out loud when my server set down my order. I've never eaten light-brown hamachi before, and as much as I like taking risks, I did not intend to spend my graduation week sitting on or huddled over a toilet. Maguro was the same story--limp pieces of rotting fish. I'm not exaggerating. Meat becomes discolored and starts to give off unpleasant odors when it rots. Duh. Common sense right? Well looks like the folks who run Sushi Deli think it's fine to serve this shit to customers.

The various "imaginative" rolls (lol @ the Mexican roll) served at Sushi Deli are equally horrendous. Same story: poorly prepared rice, rotting fish, etc. Sushi Deli attempts to mask these shortcomings by over-saucing each roll. Hell, if it still tastes bad, every table has a bottle of Sriracha for further flavor masking.

You would think a place like Sushi Deli would get shut down either due to failing a health department inspection or lack of patrons. Nope. Nuh-uh. Sushi Deli is as popular as ever with up to an hour wait during dinner. I have noticed that most of the clientele are young college students or twenty-somethings probably drawn to the "hip" ambiance created by the "Asian" decor. Or maybe they get off on eating shit a la 2-Girls-1-Cup. No don't Google the is not for the faint of heart. Even Clooney couldn't handle it.

Interestingly enough, there are many very positive reviews of Sushi Deli on Yelp! and blogs like Plate of the Day. Keep in mind over half the people on Yelp! don't know what the hell they are talking about. Sushi Deli 2 is just terribad.

How can one not recognize rotting flesh when it's just stinking up the plate in front of you?

This is by far the most negative review I've ever posted. It'll likely be the last raging/vulgar post that will find it's way to my blog. I apologize if I offended any readers. If you honestly enjoy dining at Sushi Deli, all the more power to ya. It's nice to be easily satisfied. I mean that in a good way. Honest! I just get really worked up when it comes to know, like how some folks go bonkers over politics.

EDIT: Due to the late hour when I wrote this post, I neglected to mention the discrepancy between Sushi Deli 2 and Sushi Deli 1. Thanks for the reminder Marie! While prices are very affordable in both locations, Sushi Deli 1 serves up some pretty damn good food. Moowie has actually done a terrific write-up on Sushi Deli 1. Check it out

Sushi Deli 2's address provided as a formality. I truly hope all of you trust me enough not to try out this horrible restaurant.

Sushi Deli 2
135 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101